Does Amazon's Kindle give hope to open-access model?

How is one of the U.S. mobile wireless industry's first tests in open access fairing? Back in November, Amazon began distributing a new eBook device, called the Kindle, that makes use of Sprint's nationwide EV-DO network to enable wireless shopping and over-the-air content downloading. I noted then that the Kindle is the start of Sprint's whole concept around its WiMAX business--that a network can be accessed from several different types of consumer electronic devices that aren't subsidized or sold by the wireless operator.

While Amazon isn't saying how many devices have sold, Citigroup recently said the Kindle appears to be selling much better than anticipated and could double a previous estimate for units sold this year. In fact, with few innovative gadgets on the market, the Kindle could become one of the top electronics gifts of the holiday season, along with the Apple iPhone, of course.

"Turns out the Kindle is becoming the iPod of the book world," Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney wrote in a note to clients. He estimates that Amazon will sell up to 380,000 Kindle devices this year, up from his previous forecast of 190,000. Perhaps more impressive, Mahaney expects Kindle and related revenue of more than $1 billion by 2010.

Scott Devitt, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, forecasts Amazon will sell 500,000 to 750,000 Kindles in the next year.

Open access is off to a slow start as WiMAX deployments have been delayed and Verizon's open-access plans announced last year haven't really come to fruition. Is the Kindle in the position to give hope to the entire open-access model? Despite the fact that Amazon is in a unique position to continually market the device on its web site, the Kindle has to be a foreshadowing of the revenue-generating potential.--Lynnette

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